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Review: External Disk Roundup

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 28 February 2004, 00:00

Tags: Freecom, Maxtor, Seagate (NASDAQ:STX)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qawt

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The Disks

Specification table anyone?

Freecom FHD-2 Maxtor OneTouch Maxtor Personal Storage 5000DV Maxtor Personal Storage 3000DV
Unformatted Capacity 60GB 300GB 160GB 80GB
Disk physical size 2.5" 3.5" 3.5" 3.5"
External Interface USB2.0 USB2.0 and FireWire400 USB2.0 and FireWire400 FireWire400
Rotational speed 4200rpm 5400rpm 7200rpm 7200rpm
Drive cache size 2MB 2MB 8MB 2MB
Quoted average access/seek time 12ms 10ms 9.3ms Unquoted (desktop DM9 disk is 9.3ms)
Weight 220g (7.07oz) 1.38Kg (3.1lbs) 1.22Kg (2lbs 11oz) 1.22Kg (2lbs 11oz)
Power Mains or USB bus powered Mains only Mains only Mains only

Let's talk about the Freecom first. Freecom's website literature state that the FHD-2 Pro is the only model of FHD that they sell that can be powered from the USB2.0 or Firewire bus. I'm not sure if their website documentation is incorrect or if I just managed to get a Pro in a non-Pro box, but the sample FHD-2 was definitely able to be powered by the USB2.0 cable on its own. Infact it was tested in that manner throughout and it's one of the selling points. It's not the most performance minded disk in the world, the specs above paint that picture pretty clearly, but don't let performance sway your purchase completely.

It's also available, as the Firewire power hint above lets you know, with a FireWire interface.

As far as the Maxtor disks go, there's a variety of disks on test in this article, covering different interfaces, cache sizes, capacities and rotational speeds. And it goes a lot futher in the complete product range they offer. I've got the top models in each range, OneTouch, Personal Storage 5000 and Personal Storage 3000, and they're all differentiated further, with DV, LE, LS and XT models in the Personal Storage ranges for example. The OneTouch range is differentiated mainly by interface. You get USB2.0, FireWire and combination interface devices in the range, at a range of capacities.

So Maxtor will sell you almost anything. The OneTouch drives (be mindful that the PS5000 series also has some models that feature OneTouch technology) have a programmable button that lets you launch automatic backup software or an application of your choice. So they add features and value over simple storage on the move.

All Maxtor's drives have to be tethered to a mains electricity supply, unable to be powered by either USB2.0 or FireWire bus alone. It's a shame that's the case; the Freecom shines precisely since it doesn't need an AC adaptor.

So whether you're looking for small capacity and high portability, or massive capacity without caring too much about performance, there should be something in that specification table for you, with Freecom, Maxtor and other external drive manufacturers selling huge swathes of other drives at other price points. And you can also roll your own don't forget. There are masses of enclosures, both USB2.0 and FireWire based, for you to stuff 3.5", 2.5" and SCSI drives into, to make your own disks at your own price and capacity points.

Each disk in turn now.